Thursday, July 19, 2018
Business

Trigaux: For Class of 2016, college debt loads favor Florida graduates

Florida college graduates saddled with student debt: Take heart. The average debt Class of 2016 Florida grads must bear is less than students in most states.

Florida ranks 45th in the nation based on average student debt load, mainly because so many students in this state attended public universities. Graduates in New England states — where pricey private schools are more prominent and more out-of-state students pay more to attend public universities — dominated the most indebted ranking. The west coast generally enjoyed the lowest debts.

The average 2016 Florida graduate's student debt was $24,461.

RELATED COVERAGE: Staring at the cost of college, some ask the internet to help pay the bills.

Here are some area examples. At USF's main Tampa campus, average debt was $22,276. At the University of Florida it was $21,645. At the private University of Tampa it was $31,448. And at private Eckerd College in St. Petersburg it was $33,979.

The figures appear in The Institute for College Access & Success's 12th annual survey released Wednesday.

The financial lesson? Florida grads should feel less of the sting of debt going forward than many others across the country. That has positive implications for the state economy with young working adults feeling a bit less encumbered by debt when it comes to consumer spending or, at some point, seeking to buy a home.

The flip side to that argument, of course, is Florida paychecks tend to be leaner than some other parts of the country.

At the very least, Florida high schoolers and their parents should factor in lower debts ahead as they weigh the cost pros and cons of choosing public-versus-private and in-state-versus-out-of state colleges and universities.

RELATED COVERAGE: Even brightest teens can benefit from lessons in financial planning.

"College is one of the biggest investments Americans make, yet many are making choices without basic information, including how much debt they can expect to graduate with, which varies wildly from college to college and state to state," stated the report's co-author, TICAS vice president Debbie Cochrane.

"We need to make college more affordable and reduce burdensome debt, while giving students and policy makers the information they need to make wise decisions and investments."

Contact Robert Trigaux at [email protected] Follow @venturetampabay.

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